Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures closed mostly lower on Friday after a wild session that saw the May soybean contract tumble to its lowest in over a month on worries about trade tensions, only to pare losses and briefly turn higher in late moves as soymeal soared.
Corn closed modestly higher after notching a six-week low on the trade jitters, while wheat rose on bargain-buying and a somewhat drier outlook for the U.S. Plains production belt.
Chicago Board of Trade May soybeans settled down 1-1/2 cents at $10.28-1/4 per bushel after falling to $10.09-1/4, the contract’s lowest since Feb. 12 (all figures US$).
May corn ended up 1-1/4 cents at $3.77-1/4 a bushel after falling to $3.69-1/4, its lowest since Feb. 9. CBOT May wheat finished up 4-1/2 cents at $4.60-1/4 a bushel.
Soybeans plunged in early moves on worries about trade issues with China, the world’s top soy importer, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump announced tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods.
However, soybeans were not on China’s list of U.S. goods, including pork, that could be subject to extra duties in response to U.S. tariffs.
“These markets trade fear before facts. We are fearful that if they would do something with corn or soybeans, that our demand base might dry up quickly,” said Brian Hoops, an analyst with Midwest Market Solutions.
China is projected to import 97 million tonnes of soybeans in the 2017-18 marketing year and 100 million in 2018-19, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those totals cannot be met by South American suppliers alone, analysts said, making it less likely that China would retaliate against U.S. soybeans.
“Fundamentally, our view is that in terms of retaliatory measures, soybeans is very difficult for China to do,” said Charles Clack, a commodity analyst at Rabobank.
Soybeans were underpinned by strength in soymeal futures and strong crush margins that should encourage U.S. soy processors to maintain a strong soy crushing pace.
Soymeal may have drawn support from crop losses in drought-hit Argentina, the world’s top soymeal exporter. The Buenos Aires grains exchange on Thursday cut its estimate of the country’s soy harvest to 39.5 million tonnes from 42 million tonnes previously.
Wheat futures rallied as forecasts on Friday scaled back some of the rain expected in the U.S. Plains next week.
“The weather pattern is not what the bears had hoped for. There’s going to be some smattering of moisture. … But the intensity of the rains that had been forecasted the other day is not there,” a Chicago trader said.
— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.